A BOLD PLAN THAT WORKED FOR ME.
During the seventies, single-working mothers like me were often “hit on” by men, especially married men, and usually while we were at work. I learned to expect the “hits” but as a recent divorcee launching a new career, I had to be careful how I responded to the “hitters.”
Trained from childhood to be a pleaser, I walked on eggshells to keep from damaging professional relationships. Yet every invitation to “screw around,” or participate in an “afternoon delight” became a personal affront. The very idea that a married man (they were always married) wanted to have sex with me—a single mother—was not a compliment but a “putdown.”
The shocking ordeal with my boss-- the Director of AETN-- clearly demonstrated--- I was learning. When pushed too far, I could and would defend myself. I was making progress in my quest to stand-up to sexual bullies:
The year was 1975 and I was speaking to Little Rock’s Rotary Club about my role as a single woman/ single parent in today's workplace. My talk was informative and based on facts. After my AETN experience (which I didn't discuss with my audience), I encouraged bosses and managers to keep a strictly-professional relationship with female employees.
Newly-divorced, working, and raising two daughters at the same time, I didn’t have enough confidence to publically-detail my many workplace insults. Were it today, I would have stunned the audience with my AETN(Arkansas Educational Television Network) revelations—the Director's ongoing sexual abuse of women in the workplace—and dared anyone to question my well-documented facts.
When the Rotary meeting adjourned, almost every member walked up to shake hands and say nice things about my talk. I was feeling good about my remarks, feeling rewarded for my efforts—when a nice-looking, well-dressed and distinguished-looking gentleman, extended his hand and introduced himself as Bill, the CEO of a Savings and Loan Co. He leaned in close as he put his business card in my hand and whispered, “You are lovely. I will be waiting for you tomorrow at 2 p.m. with a big surprise. The details are written on the back of my card and I promise—you won’t be disappointed. ”
Somewhat confused, I continued to smile while slipping his card in my pocket. Then it was time to greet the next person in line. Later, I pulled the card out to look at it. It was an impressive card… engraved rather than printed. Turning it over, I saw the handwritten words: CAMELOT INN, ROOM 227. “I can hardly wait until tomorrow at 2 p.m. Affectionately, Bill.”
No longer confused, I understood Bill’s plan. Evidently, Bill kept a room at the Camelot for “entertainment” purposes and tomorrow afternoon, I was scheduled to be his featured entertainer. This fool acted like he was doing me a favor! Now I knew what he meant when he said “I’ll have a big surprise waiting for you.” What arrogance.
I called an old acquaintance, well-connected in Little Rock business circles to ask about Bill. I didn’t discuss details, only that I had met Bill at Rotary Club. In response, I heard glowing remarks about Bill’s wealth; his popularity as President of the Country Club; his highly successful business ventures; and about his recent marriage to a second wife—so loved by Little Rock Society. I’d heard enough.
The next day I waited until noontime to call Bill’s home. A woman, sounding energized, answered the phone. When I asked to speak with Bill’s wife, she gushed: “I’m Bill’s wife!” I didn’t give my name. I simply said “Your husband invited me to join him at two o’clock this afternoon at the Camelot Inn— Room 227—for sex. I didn’t decline his invitation so he will be expecting me. From one woman to another, I think it would be appropriate for you to knock on the door of room 227—at 2 p.m.—and surprise him, don’t you?”
Her voice, suddenly flat like someone had just let the air out of her tires, quietly asked: “Is this a joke?” I responded: “My dear, as the former wife of a cheating husband, I don’t consider infidelity a joking matter.” She uttered a weak “thank you” before hanging up. Later, I learned that the current wife had been Bill’s girlfriend during his first marriage.
I’d bet money the new wife visited the Camelot Inn, room 227, at 2 p.m. that afternoon.